WILDLIFE

Meet the chinchilla kit born at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Sep 7, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:21 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A chinchilla kit was born at the Natural History Museum of Utah, according to an email from the museum. 

The chinchilla kit was born in the museum’s exhibit Wild World: Stories of Conservation and Hope. 

According to the Natural History Museum of Utah’s website, wildlife around the world is struggling due to pollution, deforestation, and habitat encroachment. Intended to provide education about conservation efforts from around the world, museum guests can experience the exhibit until November 5, 2023. 

Guests can participate in multiplayer challenges, interactive elements, and animal encounters while exploring the exhibit. The exhibit is staffed by trained zookeepers and educators, according to the museum website. 

The museum said in its email that “the chinchilla baby’s birth reminds us why conservation is critical to sustain(ing) the diverse ecosystems of our world.” It also said there are only 10,000 domestic long-haired chinchillas left in the wild. 

What is a chinchilla?

Chinchillas are rodents, and there are two types; long-tailed and short-tailed chinchillas. Both types are endangered, according to the Humane Society of the United States. 

Chinchillas are native to the Andes mountains in South America. According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, they live in rocky, mountainous areas from 9,800 to 16,400 feet. They den in crevices and holes. 

In the wild, the nocturnal rodents live in large social groups. The Smithsonian said they are mostly herbivorous and live on a diet comprised largely of seeds, grass, leaves, roots, lichen, and mosses.

Chinchillas are critically endangered, according to the Maryland Zoo. Hunting and trapping for pelts have caused their endangerment. It is now illegal to hunt them, however, according to the Maryland Zoo, the laws are hard to enforce because chinchillas live in remote areas. 

The Humane Society of the United States urges prospective chinchilla parents to “thoroughly research” proper care of the animals. Furthermore, those interested in having a pet chinchilla should adopt from a shelter.

Pets being sold at pet stores are often subjected to inhumane conditions, onegreenplanet.org said. Purchasing from pet stores supports a negative cycle, the website said, while adopting from a reputable shelter or breeder ensures furthered humane practices. 

The Natural History Museum of Utah wants the public to name the chinchilla kit. Visitors who are interested in submitting a name can comment on the muesum’s Facebook post. According to the post, museum staff will choose the top 10 names and then create a poll. 

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Meet the chinchilla kit born at the Natural History Museum of Utah